It’s the world’s first internet election in Estonia today. But the go-ahead 21st century technology available to the electorate contrasts sharply with some of the social and economic statistics in the Baltic republic, where men die younger, prisons are fuller and inflation booming. Opinion polls in Estonia predict a centre-left/centre-right government – a coalition that will probably need a third party to secure a majority.
The internet has already been available for voters to cast their ballot in this election – and it’s perhaps apt that this country in particular is embracing e-voting. It’s where the internet telephone technology Skype was developed. Technological investment and advice from their Scandinavian neighbours has allowed, for instance, Estonian motorists to use mobile phones to pay for parking, and the country is awash with wireless internet hotspots. The main parties though are still using traditional technology, like TV, to make their promises of tax-cuts and a stronger economy. The smaller parties say it’s unfair, because they just can’t afford ad campaigns.